This is a car that feels like it was developed on largely dry and smooth European roads, for in such unchallenging conditions the Ghibli handles well. The steering is not exactly flooded with feel, but it does feel natural and consistent, and it’s accurate and linear in its responses.
Meantime, even on standard passive suspension, the Ghibli’s body movements are controlled fluently. Grip is such that you’re never going to accidentally overwhelm it with the torque of the available engines.
The handling feels taut, sporting and directly in line with what you might hope for and expect in a Maserati saloon. Fun and poised, then, and in this idealistic arena the Ghibli puts clear air between itself and the class average.
But the Ghibli is far less sure of itself in less optimal environments. In the wet it feels too stiffly suspended at the back, and you’ll never notice that more than when accelerating left or right away from a damp junction.
There’s no great harm done, but the Ghibli doesn’t quite do its sibling Ferraris much credit on the track. But neither does it need to. We’d happily take the car as it is, rather than have Modena add sporting purpose at the expense of on-road ride compliance and everyday habitability.
However, that leaves the Ghibli a way off the limit handling standards set by the best sports saloons. It corners flat, it’s grippy and communicative and it’s quite well balanced.
But Maserati’s standard passive dampers aren’t really up to the job of keeping the car’s two-tonne mass fully in check during fast direction changes, and there’s a troubling change of pace in the steering rack, just around a quarter turn of lock, that makes the car hard to place, and hard to correct smoothly, mid-corner.
The car’s wheel and tyre sizes penalise it on wet-weather grip and limit controllability. Even so, its ESC and ABS systems could and should be more sensitively tuned.
Despite a standard limited-slip differential, traction is surprisingly limited. On the move, grip levels degrade from excellent to unimpressive, and if you throw in some typical British B-road gremlins – tightening radii, surface and camber changes – the Ghibli can suddenly feel large, heavy and a little ponderous.
The ride is problematic. We don’t think customers will expect a Maserati to ride like a Mercedes, but even with this taken this into account, the Ghibli is still too intolerant of high-frequency bumps and, especially, our ubiquitous potholes, which jolt the structure sufficiently to suggest there’s too much unsprung mass hanging off each corner of the car.
Overall, the Ghibli is not as refined as we’d hoped. The diesel motor is too audible when under load and, at least on 20in rims, there is far too much road noise on coarse surfaces.